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1986 109’ col Hindi d/co-p/sc Mrinal Sen pc Scarabee Films (Paris), Mrinal Sen Prod. (Calcutta), Les Films de la Dreve (Brussels), Cactus Films (Zurich) co-pc Film Four (London), SSR (Berne) co-p Marie Pascale Osterrieth, Palaniappan Ramasamy, Eliane Stutterheim, Jean-Jacques Andrien co-sc Mohit Chattopadhay st Samaresh Bose dial Surendra P. Singh, Umashankar Pathik c Carlo Varini m Ravi Shankar lp Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, M.K. Raina

Whereas Sen’s best work derived much strength from being rooted in a specific time and place, giving historical resonances to the particular shapes of the conflicts he depicted, this international co-production mostly financed by European television channels is set in a purely symbolic and timeless space: some ruins in the middle of a desert. A farmer (Shah) and a weaver (Puri) exchange their products for goods provided by a regularly passing trader (Raina). A woman (Azmi) arrives, focusing the two men’s desires but also urging them to obtain more recompense from the trader. After a visit to a village fair (exuberantly shot with telling details reminiscent of Sen’s earlier work) the two men become more acquisitive and jealousies break out over the now pregnant woman who simply ups and leaves. As the two men fight each other, the trader’s men attack and enslave the workers again. The film closes with shots of bulldozers and modern machinery clearing the ground. Sen’s timeless parable about the genesis of capitalism, although acted with conviction by the cast, suffers from its abstraction, transforming the characters into stereotypes and reducing the complexities of history to simplified generalities. G. Chakravorty Spivak (1993) provides a postcolonial reading of the film.